When the Weber State University football team takes the field against Western Illinois on Nov. 25 for their first-ever home playoff contest, it will be the first time the Wildcats have played the Leathernecks in 41 years.
Western Illinois defeated WSU in 1975 and 1976, the only two times the schools have met.
The Leathernecks finished 8–3 in the regular season, good for a fourth-place finish in the Missouri Valley conference. ESPN predicted that Western Illinois would beat the Wildcats 28–24, the closest of all the FCS Playoff week one matches. Position-by-position, the Wildcats and Leathernecks are relatively even matched.
Quarterback: Weber State senior Stefan Cantwell enjoyed a standout campaign, throwing 18 touchdown passes against only five interceptions while also throwing for 2,255 yards.
For Western Illinois, junior signalcaller Sean McGuire compiled slightly better numbers, throwing 24 touchdowns while picking up 2,650 passing yards.
Receiver: The ‘Cats leading receiver was senior tight end Andrew Vollert, who caught 44 passes for 557 total yards. Senior Drew Batchelor led WSU in touchdown catches with five.
Senior Jaelon Acklin had a dominant season for the Leathernecks, as the senior amassed 1,253 receiving yards, while also catching a team-high 10 touchdown passes.
Running Back: Junior Treshawn Garrett was consistent for WSU in 2017, rushing for 685 yards and six touchdowns. Steve McShane, also a junior, led Western Illinois in rushing with seven touchdowns, picking up.
McShane was responsible for punt returns for the Leathernecks, scoring the team’s only special teams touchdown. Sophomore Darron Wheeler was the team’s main kick returner, running the ball back for 555 yards over the regular season.
Defensive Line: Sophomore defensive end Jonah Williams has 4.5 sacks on the season, the most of any defensive lineman on the Wildcats roster. Williams also has one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
For the Leathernecks, junior lineman Khalen Saunders leads the team with 6.5 sacks, he also leads the team with three forced fumbles.
Linebackers: Weber State junior LeGrand Toia leads the team in tackles with 61 and sacks with five on the season. Senior Brett Taylor is the star of the Leathernecks defense, collecting 150 total tackles on the season. Taylor’s 150 tackles are the most of any player in college football.
Defense back: Defensive back Jordan Preator led the way on the other side of the ball for the ‘Cats, as the junior collected four interceptions. Junior Justin Fitzpatrick led the way for the Leathernecks, intercepting a team-high five passes.
Special Teams: Senior Xequille Harry returned a punt 84 yards for a score on Sept. 23 against UC Davis, the first such occurrence for WSU in seven years. On kickoffs, redshirt freshman Rashid Shaheed was in charge of returning kicks, running back two kickoffs for touchdowns.
Kicker: Freshman Trey Tuttle was consistent for WSU, delivering on 16 of 19 field goal attempts before being named to the Big Sky All-Conference first team. Western Illinois sophomore Sam Crosa was perfect in eight tries.